“Why so nervous kid?”
The gun shook in Tiny’s hand. He pulled his sleeve along his forehead and it came off damp despite the chill of the late summer’s night. He closed his eyes and breathed deep. Not long now, not long and it’s all over. He clasped the gun in two hands and rose to his feet, puffing out a calming cloud of mist into the night.
“It’s nothing,” Tiny replied, squaring his eyes at the older boy.
Zeke nodded, apparently satisfied.
Tiny shook his head. Was it nothing? He could feel his body getting weaker, his mind losing focus. He was getting tired. It wouldn’t be long now before he passed out only to wake up… different. Tiny’s hands started shaking double at the thought. He needed some Dust, and he needed it soon.
The lights of the warehouse switched on and off. Just a flicker to someone not looking for it, but to them it was a sign. It was time.
“That’s you kid,” Zeke said to Tiny, pointing up high at an appropriately tiny window. The reason they’d brought a “kid” along in the first place.
“Those alarms better be off, or I’m literally getting left high and dry,” he told Zeke.
“If Tiger says they’re off that means they’re off,” he replied impatiently, looking everywhere but at Tiny.
He would have told Zeke to shove the climb up his arse, but he’d heard the phrase “what Tiger says, goes” from too many different mouths in too many different contexts to not take it as truth.
The rest of the group leaned back against the corrugated iron wall, impatient and apparently too cool to watch Tiny risk a couple of broken legs for the job. He shook his head, tucked the gun into his pants and set off to work.
He leapt off of a stack of pallets and onto the roof of a shipping container, skipping from one to the other without breaking pace. He ran up the wall and grabbed onto the beams that stuck out past the roof, monkey-barring his way across until he was just out from the window. He hung, looking directly at his reflection before lifting his feet and kicking it in. He could hear it smash on the concrete below which, thankfully, was the only sound that greeted him from inside the warehouse. What Tiger says really does go.
He kicked out the rest of the shards and swung in to sit on the edge, stretching out his feet to find a foothold and finding nothing but air. He pulled himself in and hung from the window frame, lowering himself to the point just before the point of no return. Still nothing but a space that may as well have been infinite in the darkness. He lowered himself past that point, return not an option, return never really being an option. His fingers were straining. He stretched his toes out until they just barely scraped the wood of a storage crate. He breathed out a ragged breath and waited for the rest of his body to catch up to his feet in realising he was back on solid ground, somewhat. A little dizzy, he dropped and climbed his way down to open the door from the inside. Zeke flashed him a smile as he entered the warehouse.
“Better than expected kid,” he slapped him on the back, “granting that ‘expected’ was a short drop and a hard stop.”
Tiny held the door for the others as they filed past, each with looks of grudging respect or grudging indifference. As the last entered Tiny silently slipped off his shoe and slid it to wedge the door open a crack.
Zeke led them confidently through the isles with the half-light of one far off bulb and the blue light of his phone. He knew exactly what he was looking for. Outside they heard a truck pulling up.
“That’s us boys,” Zeke said over his shoulder. “Let’s get this stuff and get out quick. We’ve got 30 minutes, no more”.
He picked up his pace and left them in the relative darkness.
“God you really do look like shit”. One of the others mentioned it this time, the blonde one.
Tiny looked up at him, trying to focus with the shitty light quality and a spinning head.
“Don’t say nothing, I’m sick of hearing nothing. Your being on this job means my brother misses out on a cut. He’d have climbed that wall in half the time and wouldn’t be shaking about it after.”
Tiny looked down. His hands were shaking, still. He was thirsty as well, god he was thirsty, and as dizzy as he had been dangling 30 feet up. He swallowed sour spit. Soon.
He gripped his fingers tight around his gun and pulled it out, waving it with a steadier hand.
“It’s just, well, I’ve never actually held one of these before,” Tiny replied.
Blondie laughed. “Whaddya mean you’ve never held a gun before? I knew we should have picked Alfie on this one. This guy’s a fucking amateur.”
“Ssshhhhuthefuckup,” Zeke hissed.
Tiny looked forward, ignoring Blondie for a second. Zeke had stopped in front of a packed shelf on the back wall of the warehouse. He shone his phone light over the label.
‘Marius Industries – Youvelix 10mg.’
“Tiger is gonna love this,” Blondie said, licking his lips.
“I reckon I care more if Lily loves it or not,” Zeke said under his breath.
The boys who’d overheard gave each other a look.
Tiny frowned. Was that tension he sensed? A power struggle between the heads of one of the most powerful gangs in the city. A divide in the city’s second largest gang? He should be paying attention, but his head was swimming and in too deep in to come up for air. He looked over at the box. So close… He wanted to reach out a hand, to dig into the treasure, but he kept it close, instead using it to push his wet hair back. He should wait another second, see where the tension led, after all, information is always useful, especially when dealing with enemies. But then again, so is brute force, and he couldn’t wait another second.
He forced a smile and tapped Blondie on the shoulder. He turned with a suffering look on his face.
“Answering your question,” Tiny said, even as he could manage, “I’ve never held a gun before because the Lost Boys don’t really use guns”.
“Lost Boys? What the fu-”
The handle of Tiny’s gun had already slammed the question back onto his mouth and he crumpled to the floor. Tiny turned to see Zeke’s gun pointed at his heart. Fuck, the others didn’t make it then. Before he could cry out or beg or scream or do whatever he intended to do with his last breath, a steel bat crushed the hands that held the gun. A follow up took Zeke right across his mouth. Likewise happened to the other three lads in the group as blunt weapons flashed from the darkness leaving crumpled bodies in their wake.
“Cutting it a little fine aren’t we boys?” Tiny said, secretly shitting himself. He really didn’t like guns, especially when they were pointed at him.
“Perfect timing if I were to say so myself,” Slightly said, calm as always, with his steel bat resting against his shoulder.
“We had more trouble than we hoped dealing with the truck crew,” said Nibs, his grim expression visible over his freshly lit cigarette. “Now let’s load these boxes and get the fuck out of here before these boys wake up”.
“Righto boss,” said Slightly and he set himself to the task, “Come on boys, help me out. This shit is heavy for a bit of Dust”. He said the last with a grin despite the effort. It was a good haul. A fucking excellent haul if you were enthusiastic. Tiny was too tired and too shaken to be anything but thirsty.
The boys left with the crates but Nibs hung around.
“You alright?” Nibs asked as he inspected the goods.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replied tucking his shaking hands in his pockets, “just need a minute, you know?”
Nibs looked over him with a half glance, then picked up a crate on his own.
“Hang back here while we load this up. One dart, then we’re out, ya hear?”
“I hear”. He sat back nonchalantly as Nibs went off, leaving Tiny in the half-light. He let a deep breath out and shut his eyes for a moment. Now, right fucking now. You’ll die if it isn’t this very instant. The screaming got louder and louder until it was almost apocalyptic.
He jumped to his feet and opened the closest crate, grabbing a packet of ‘Youvelix’ and ripping it open, scattering white pills across the floor. He dropped to his knees and crushed the closest one with the butt of his hand, then bent over to sniff the powder. You’re a fucking junkie Tiny, have the stuff in front of you for ten seconds and you’re already on your knees to it. He was disgusted in himself, but the feeling was overwhelmed as he felt the Dust rush through him. His entire body tensed, his muscles feeling tight to the point of tearing, then loose to the point of drifting away and he relaxed, although his pulse was still racing. His vision cleared and his mind became sharp. He breathed out. He was young again.
He got to his feet quickly, noticing the mess he’d made.
He scraped the pills up stashed them in his pocket. He shut the lid of the crate and lifted it. No one is gonna miss one box.
“You need help with that?” Nibs asked from around the shelves.
“Yeah I reckon so.”
Nibs grabbed the opposite handle and the two carried the box out of the warehouse. Nibs gave him a long sideways glace but said nothing. The two emerged into the glare of headlights. The truck steamed as it idled and they rounded it and loaded the crate up onto the back with a heave. Nibs made to leave but Tiny grabbed his forearm.
“So what’re we actually doing with all of this? There is a fuck load of product here, enough to put us all away for a long time, if not something worse. What’s the play Nibs?”
Tiny whispered so as not to let the other boys hear the doubt in his voice.
Nibs gave him a glance, unreadable as always, then hopped up onto the tray.
“You know it’s the Tinker’s that own the Dust trade in this city. They sell it to the suits on Walter Street and the housewives up in the Hills for a fucked price. I’ve convinced them that there’s a market for it down here, on the streets. They set this up for us and we’ve got the location, the time, and all the information we could need to sell it, we just have to not fuck it up.”
“So what’s the play? The play is we sell this shit, we sell it for all it’s fucking worth and take our cut. If we don’t they’ll kill us. But then again without it we’re dead anyways. Simple huh? Now get up here so we can jet.”
Tiny thought he could see something in Nibs. He was like a book with no words, but the broken spine could tell you enough. He was scared. He was in over his head. They all were.
“Do the others know?”
“You’ve been out of the loop for a while Tiny. There’s only two outcomes for this, win or lose, but there are a million avenues to explore on our way to them. We’ve got ideas mate, don’t you worry about that.”
He held out his hand to help Tiny up and he took it. Nibs gripped hard and flashed Tiny a wicked smile, his eyes lighting up with a fever gaze.
Fuck, Tiny thought to himself as he was dragged onto the truck, Nib’s isn’t scared. He’s enjoying this. He likes being in too deep. Nibs banged twice on the cab wall and the truck started moving.